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Bush cites 'bright' future for markets

Bush in Illinois: "I do believe the fundamentals for economic growth are real."  

From Suzanne Malveaux
CNN Washington Bureau

ARGONNE, Illinois (CNN) -- President Bush refused to give out advice to skittish investors Monday, saying, "I'm not a stockbroker. I'm not a stock picker."

But he again tried to reassure Americans that the economy is sound, despite the downturn in the stock market that continued in morning trading with a triple-digit dip.

"I do believe the fundamentals for economic growth are real," the president said, pointing to low interest rates, low inflation and increased economic growth.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Argonne National Laboratory, Bush again called on Congress to pass his corporate governance reform bill, which would set tougher penalties for corporate abuse, and greater regulation of the accounting industry.

"I believe Congress is going to get a bill that will take some of the uncertainty out of the market, and that bill is going to put meaningful reforms in place, and then the investor is going to pick value, make decisions on value," he said.

"From what I hear, corporate profits are improving, which means values will be available for those investors in the market."

Lawmakers are negotiating differences between House and Senate corporate reform bills.

The president seemed to empathize with those who hadn't put all their trust or money in the volatile market.

"Certainly I understand some have diversified into bonds," he said. "For those who have, their portfolios are better than those who've stayed only in equity. But I believe the future is going to be bright."

Bush downplayed Sunday's bankruptcy announcement by WorldCom, saying he thought ripples in the economy from its downfall had already faded.

"I think the market has already adjusted for that," Bush said. "What I'm worried about are the employees that work at WorldCom. I worry people will lose work. But the market has already anticipated the WorldCom decision."

Financial analysts are much less optimistic about the market's future, with some predicting a 5 percent to 10 percent dip before it levels and rebounds.

Bush was in Illinois to tour the laboratory, where new anti-terrorism technologies are being developed, and to promote his proposal for a Homeland Security Department.




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